This qualitative study will investigate the question of how adult literacy students of various ages (19 to 70 years), with learning difficulties, are taught to spell in literacy classes. I will examine strategies the tutors employ to teach spelling and if the students feel that these are effective. Firstly, I am going to justify my reasons for choosing this very specific technical skill. Secondly, I will then outline my central research question and the sub-questions that arise from it. Thirdly, I will discuss the relevance of the research publications identified to the problem of teaching adults with learning difficulties to spell and how they have helped to contributed to clarifying my research question and sub questions. Fourthly, I will look at the proposed methodology of the study and my choice of data sources and how they could further my understanding of the subject while considering the ethical issues involved and how they may affect the way the data is gathered. FinalIy, this study intends to link research to practice and be of benefit to both literacy tutors and their students.
While I believe that literacy difficulties should be looked at from a socio-cultural perspective (Green and Kostogriz, 2002), the subject of my investigation is a technical skill. Spelling can have a personal and social value as it may influence an individual’s ability to gain employment and participate fully in society. (Sawyer and Joyce, 2006). A recent Mencap survey (2012) tested Britain’s spelling ability and highlighted its poor spelling and also argued that this had implications for employment. The students I have worked with have expressed a clear desire to improve their spelling. Surprisingly, this aspect of literacy teaching has received very little attention.
Central Research Question
This central research question of this project will investigate how adult literacy students of various ages (19 to 70 years), with learning difficulties, are taught to spell in literacy classes. While this question may be viewed as a study of a technical skill I believe that it should still be viewed in a multi-dimensional context (Rassool, 2009) as it could be construed as having an economic and social purpose. Green and Kostogriz (2002) argue that literacy difficulties should be viewed in relation to both culture and society. If poor spelling has an economic impact on this particular group then it is an area that needs to be addressed. Freedom to Learn p. 19 highlights the fact that dyslexics may be disadvantaged by inappropriate teaching methods. One of the problems with the Study Guide and course readings is that they focus mainly on children and it is hard to extrapolate the information and refocus it on adult learners.
Reid and Weatherly Valle (2004) discuss the needs to be aware of the fact that it is possible to exclude certain communities from the research process. While this study was based on children it equally applies to adults ‘personal...